Last Updated on January 18, 2017 by cassnetwork
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb on Tuesday delivered his 2017 State of the State address to a joint convention of the Indiana General Assembly. His remarks elaborated on the five pillars of his legislative agenda while introducing new key issues.
“Together, we have the special charge of leading Indiana into our third century,” Governor Holcomb said. “That means we need to think not just about today but about the years to come—and we need to act with boldness and courage to solve our current issues and prepare Indiana for the ever-changing future.”
Governor Holcomb outlined his Next Level Legislative Agenda for the 2017 session on Jan. 5, just days before his inauguration. The agenda presents five pillars designed to address the key challenges facing our state today while positioning Indiana for long-term success and economic growth:
- Cultivate a strong and diverse economy to ensure Indiana is a magnet for jobs.
- Fund a long-term roads and bridges plan.
- Develop a 21st century skilled and ready workforce.
- Attack the drug epidemic.
- Provide great government service.
Regarding how to fund a long-term plan for infrastructure, the Governor reiterated his support for a range of options—including fuel tax increases, new tolling options, fees for alternative-fuel vehicles and creative public-private partnerships.
“The fact is, existing sources of revenue are just not keeping up,” Governor Holcomb said. “I’m a believer that every time you ask a taxpayer for a dollar, you better be darn sure you need it and are going to use it effectively for its intended purpose. And, here’s a case that if we ask Hoosiers to invest a little more to meet the need, the return is going to be well worth it—for them, for our communities, and for our economy.”
The Governor also focused on attacking Indiana’s drug epidemic. Since 2000, the number of Hoosier deaths caused by drug overdoses has increased by 500 percent, and Indiana ranks 15th nationally in overdose fatalities. In his address, Governor Holcomb called out the “heroes on the front lines” in Indiana communities working to curb the drug crisis and save lives every day. On day one in office, Governor Holcomb created a new position charged with the responsibility to coordinate and oversee the state’s efforts to curb the drug epidemic: an executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement.
Beyond his five legislative priorities, the Governor maintained his support for a fourth water port in Southern Indiana to accelerate economic development as well as for amending the Indiana Constitution to ensure the state passes balanced biennial budgets for generations to come. He said his administration would focus on a long-term plan for bringing clean coal technology and innovation to the state.
Governor Holcomb ended his first State of the State address with a commitment to working with people from all walks of life.
“I will continue to reach out to everyone with ideas that can lift all Hoosiers, including those who may not always agree on everything but are willing to find opportunities to solve problems and move our state forward,” Governor Holcomb said.
Each year, Indiana’s Governor addresses both houses of the state legislature, the state’s Supreme Court Justices, and other state leaders at the beginning of the legislative session in the State of the State Address. It provides an opportunity for the Governor to report on the status quo of the state’s affairs, highlight key accomplishments of the past year, and outline key priorities for the year ahead.
SOURCE: News release from the Office of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb
Response to 2017 State of the State:
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch: “I applaud Governor Holcomb for clearly laying out to Hoosiers our administration’s plan to lead Indiana into its third century through the Next Level Legislative Agenda. I believe, whole heartedly, that Governor Holcomb’s call to action this evening will be a commitment that transforms these priorities into actual opportunities for all Hoosiers to come alongside us and take Indiana to the Next Level.”
Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Cardwell: “Tonight, Governor Eric Holcomb shared during his State of the State address Indiana’s successes so far. We stand as one of the top five states in the country for doing business, we have more Hoosiers working today than ever before- and we should all be proud of the state Indiana is today.
“Now, under the proven leadership of our new statewide leadership team, we need to continue to build upon those successes and bring Indiana into the third century. We are excited to see where the future will take us as Indiana is taken to the Next Level.”
Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath (Michigan City): “While Republicans in the Legislature are calling for new taxes on Hoosier motorists, it seems our governor is not yet ready to embrace their plan.
“The success of any program as massive as this depends on the governor’s ability to sell it to Hoosiers. From what we have seen tonight, it does not appear he is ready to accept that role.
“This is the dilemma facing his party. Too many House and Senate Republicans have preached for years that taxes cannot be raised for any reason. Candidly, they have effectively convinced many voters of this as well.
“Republicans may be disagreeing with each other before they get around to disagreeing with Democrats.
“Truth be told, this is a time for questions. Indiana House Democrats remain wary of calls for sacrifices that are not shared, particularly at a time when these same leaders keep state budget surpluses at impossibly high levels AND cut taxes for corporations, special interests, and the very wealthy.
“There is a lot of pleading that must be done to make legislators on both sides of the aisle believe that we should be raising taxes. After tonight’s speech, it remains to be seen what role the governor will play in the debate.
“As for the governor’s other proposals, there is much to support in the call for improving the skills of our workforce, but we are simply too timid in our approach to pre-K. The need is obvious enough that we do not have to fiddle with gradual expansions of pilot projects that ignore most of the state.
“And when it comes to K-12, there simply isn’t enough of a recognition that we have been slowly starving our public schools of the funds they need to meet their constitutionally-required mandate to educate all children. At some point in time, we have to stop continually throwing money at a laboratory for vouchers and charters, and remind ourselves that we need to look out for all schoolchildren.
“Indiana House Democrats will be there to offer advice as Republicans work through their internal debates, particularly when it comes to tax hikes. There are alternatives that don’t ask more from the unconnected.”
State Senator Randy Head (R-Logansport): “Gov. Holcomb laid out aggressive and achievable goals for this legislative session in his State of the State address.
“Attacking the drug epidemic, growing our economy, funding our roads well into the future, and supporting workforce development are important issues that I will continue to support.
“I look forward to working with our new governor in the days and weeks ahead as we continue to make Indiana a great place to live, work and raise a family.”